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Into the Light?

Critical Theory and Social Change in South Africa

Ben Parker

Beyond Hegel and Nietzsche: Philosophy, Culture and Agency, by Elliot L. Jurist. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2000.

The Postnational Constellation: Political Essays, by Jürgen Habermas. Translated, edited and with an introduction by Max Pensky. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2001.

Pluralism and the Pragmatic Turn: The Transformation of Critical Theory. Essays in Honor of Thomas McCarthy, edited by William Rehg and James Bohman. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2001.

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Fixing Men: Sex, Birth Control, and AIDS in Mexico, Contemporary South Africa, by Matthew Gutmann Marc Epprecht

The Political Philosophy of Needs, by Lawrence Hamilton David James

Foucault, Psychology and the Analytics of Power, by Derek Hook Grahame Hayes

Rethinking Multiculturalism: Cultural Diversity and Political Theory, 2nd edition, by Bhikhu Parekh Joleen Steyn-Kotze

The Plot to Kill God: Findings from the Soviet Experiment in Secularization, by Paul Froese Gerald West

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Animals, Plants, People, and Things

A Review of Multispecies Ethnography

Laura A. Ogden, Billy Hall, and Kimiko Tanita

This article defines multispecies ethnography and links this scholarship to broader currents within academia, including in the biosciences, philosophy, political ecology, and animal welfare activism. The article is organized around a set of productive tensions identified in the review of the literature. It ends with a discussion of the “ethnographic” in multispecies ethnography, urging ethnographers to bring a “speculative wonder” to their mode of inquiry and writing.

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Andrew Benjamin and Francesco Borghesi

This special issue arose from a workshop on “Peace and Concord from Plato to Lessing”, organised by the editors and which took place at the University of Sydney on 18 and 19 September 2017. Central to the work of both the editors is the relationship between the concepts of ‘concord’, ‘peace’ and ‘dignity’ within a setting created by a concern with the development of a philological anthropology. Their work combines both intellectual history and philosophy, a combination that is reflected in the contents of the special issue of Theoria. The importance of these terms is that they allow for another interpretation of the ethical and the political. Central to both is the location of human being within a larger cultural context. That context demands an approach in which philosophy does not exclude history, and history recognises that it is already informed philosophically. If there is a unifying term, it is ‘culture’. The approach taken within the larger project starts with the centrality of culture as that which demands to be thought. And yet culture is neither tranquil nor unified. As Walter Benjamin argued, there ‘is no document of culture which is not at the same time a document of barbarism’. Allowing for culture’s centrality entails a reconfiguration of both philosophy and intellectual history.

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Blackout

Freedom, without Power

Christopher Allsobrook

This article attributes the conception of 'freedom-without-power' which dominates contemporary Western political philosophy to a reification of social agency that mystifies contexts of human capacities and achievements. It suggests that Plato's analogy between the structure of the soul and the polis shows how freedom is a consequence, rather than a condition, of political relations, mediated by inter-subjective contestation. From this basis, the article draws on the work of Raymond Geuss to argue against pre-political ethical frameworks in political philosophy, in favour of a more contextually sensitive, self-critical approach to ethics. Such reciprocal ethical-political integration addresses problems of ideological complicity that may arise if freedom is discretely abstracted from history and power in political philosophy. Finally, the article roughly reconstructs a critical account of African identity from writings of Steven Biko to illuminate symptoms of 'meritocratic apartheid' in South Africa today which Thad Metz's influential pre-political conception of ubuntu obscures, by abstracting the figure of African personhood from politically significant historical conditions.

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Agents, Spectators, and Social Hope

Richard Rorty and American Intellectuals

Marek Kwiek

Rorty wrote his Achieving Our Country as a philosopher, intellectual, academic and citizen, and each of these perspectives lead to a different emphasis in reading his book, and to a different story (and ‘storytelling’ is one of the themes of the book). The emergent pictures vary: the philosopher tells a story of the growing isolation and cultural sterility of analytic philosophy in the United States of America after the Second World War; the intellectual tells a story of the political bareness and practical uselessness of (the majority of) American leftist intellectuals in the context of the emerging new global order at the turn of the 21st century; the academic tells the story about humanities’ departments at American universities, especially departments of literature and cultural studies, and their students, and contrasts their possible future fate with the past fate of departments of analytical philosophy and their students; and, finally, the citizen tells a story about the nationhood, politics, patriotism, reformism (as well as the inherent dangers and opportunities of globalization). Rorty plays the four descriptions off against one another perfectly and Achieving Our Country represents him at his very best: Rorty is passionate, inspiring, uncompromising, biting and very relevant to current public debates. Owing to the intelligent combination of the above perspectives, the clarity and elegance of his prose, and (although not revealed directly) the wide philosophical background provided by his new pragmatism, the book differs from a dozen others written in the 1990s about the American academy and American intellectuals. It also sheds new and interesting light on Rorty’s pragmatism, providing an excellent example of the application of his philosophical views. One has to note that, generally, it is almost impossible to think of any piece written by Rorty outside of the context of his philosophy, and Achieving Our Country is no exception to this rule.

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Francesco Caddeo

After decades of separation between Sartre's philosophy and Foucault's philosophy, we are now in a position to offer an analysis free from all dogmatic presuppositions. On the basis of certain themes, such as the study of the mechanisms of power, systems of marginalization, and how subjectivity is constituted, it is now possible to create links which go beyond the sterile polemics which have so often marked French philosophy. Today, Sartre and Foucault can be re-read as two very important tool-keys for giving us a way to understand the developments arising during our time. Their personal polemic of the mid-1960s must be re-read as a mutual misunderstanding. Notwithstanding some of the acerbic remarks the two philosophers said about each other, we will see that in these same pages can be found ways of thinking, especially regarding the conception of subjectivity, which can bring together these two intellectual itineraries.

French Après quelques décennies de séparation académique entre la philosophie sartrienne et foucaldienne, nous pouvons maintenant déployer une analyse qui se détache de tous les préjugés dogmatiques. À partir de certaines thématiques particulières comme celles de l'étude des mécanismes du pouvoir, des systèmes de marginalisation, de constitution de la subjectivité, il est possible aujourd'hui de construire des liens qui dépassent les stériles polémiques qui ont souvent marqué la philosophie française. Aujourd'hui Sartre et Foucault peuvent être relus, en fait, comme deux boites-à-outils très importantes pour donner une clé de lecture des évènements marquants de l'époque contemporaine. Leur polémique personnelle du milieu des années soixante doit être relue, en effet, comme une incompréhension réciproque : malgré les échanges acerbes entre les deux philosophes, nous verrons dans ces pages que certaines considérations, surtout à propos de la conception de la subjectivité, peuvent rapprocher les deux parcours intellectuels.

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Kathleen Wider

Phyllis Sutton Morris, co-founder of the Sartre Society of North America and member of its executive committee for several years, died on May 31, 1997 from complications due to cancer. Phyllis received her undergraduate degree in philosophy from the University of California at Berkeley and her doctorate from the University of Michigan. She taught for several years at Kirkland College in New York and was, at various times in more recent years, on the faculty at LeMoyne College, Oberlin College, and the University of Michigan. She was a devoted teacher who dedicated a great deal of time and energy to preparing her classes and to meeting with students.

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Mike Gane

In the spring and summer of 1938 two quite different seminars took place in Paris. One was the very well-known Collège de Sociologie, which included the participation of Caillois and Bataille – see ‘Sacred Sociology of the Contemporary World’, 2 April 1938, and the session ‘Festival’, 2 May 1939, in which Caillois indicates the importance of sacred games (in Hollier 1988: 157–159, 279–303). The other was the Walter Lippman Colloque, 26–30 August 1938 (in Rougier 1939). The former was the significant forerunner of French sociology and philosophy – from Derrida to Baudrillard – decisively influenced by Marcel Mauss.

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Boys on the Outer

Themes in Male Engagement with Music

Scott Harrison

This paper examines the cause of exclusionary practices in music, documenting the core values that underpin this issue in relation to males’ engagement with music. The focus for the paper is on the way in which gender has been one of the primary principles for the exclusion of boys, based on presumptions without foundation except in the erroneous hegemonic stereotypical images that prevail in social institutions such as schools. Through historical investigation of philosophy and practice combined with results from interviews with participants, the study reveals experiences in relation to genderbased exclusion from music. It concludes by offering an insight into approaches that deal with addressing this issue.